Sunlight Weekly Roundup: Public frustrations regarding lack of transparency

  • The Jordan-Elbridge County school district held a training session for the public on the county’s open meetings law. State Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood has ruled that the Jordan-Elbridge board violated New York’s open meetings law in the past.  The training session was led by Robert Freeman, the executive director of the Committee on Open Government. Freeman hopes the sessions will alleviate mistrust citizens have in the school district regarding lack of transparency, maintaining, “I don’t know details about the hostility that has been expressed in this school district but my hope of course is that knowledge of the law and when everybody hears the same question and the same answer at the same time it will encourage a little more peace.” For Alex Dunbar’s take, check out his post on CNY Central.
  • A group of concerned citizens wants Arizona to phase out bipartisan elections in favor of Open Elections that would have the highest-polling  candidates going to the general election regardless of political party. Supporters say the proposed Open Elections/Open Government Act would put an end to small groups of partisan voters effectively deciding elections by turning out for primaries. Paul Johnson, the former Phoenix mayor serving as chairman of the Open Government Committee argues, “It opens up the elections so more people can vote in the primary election, which effectively will end up opening up government to more ideas and more people who can participate.”  To get the full story, check out Joanne Ingram’s post at the Tucson Sentinel. 
  • The Englewood City Council is poised to end their policy of choosing the mayor and mayor pro tem on a secret vote. In the past, the council has held a secret ballot in an informal meeting before codifying their final selections in public. Critics argue that the practice violates the Colorado’s Sunshine Law. District 4 Councilman Rick Gillit says he helped push for the change to help bring transparency to a city that some say has been slow to comply with Colorado’s open-meetings law. To read more, check out Peter Jones’ post on the Villager. 
  • Tennessee State Senator Bo Watson is considering a bill calling for all public notices in Hamilton County to be published online rather than in newspapers. Notices provide the public information about city and county governing bodies’ public meetings as well as zoning matters, public purchases and other areas. Supporters of the proposed bill argue that the current law requiring newspaper public of public notices amount to a “subsidy” for an industry losing subscribers because of technological change. For more information, read  Tom Humphrey’s blog Humphrey on the Hill.